It’s import to get rewarding employees right. Rewards aren’t just a nice bonus to make staff feel good. They’re a business tool. That’s not to say you should take the joy out of giving employees rewards, but you should be smart about how you use them.
A poorly timed or a poorly thought-out reward is just your company’s money down the drain. That’s a tragedy when you could be getting so much more out of rewarding employees.
When you think someone deserves a reward, take just a few seconds to ask yourself five questions about the achievement in question.
1. Does it reflect your values?
Rewarding employees for living your values builds engagement with those principles. It’s important to make sure employees are recognised, and sometimes rewarded, for upholding your company values in their work.
By closely linking achievements to company values, staff are more familiar with your company’s purpose. This also creates positive links between staff, your business and your rewards.
Rewarding for behaviour that doesn’t reflect your values has two negative effects. Your employees lose faith that you believe in your own organisation’s values. And they will see that you actually treasure them working outside of those values.
2. Is it notable?
Would your employee, and their colleagues, agree their achievement is notable?
A reward is a waste of cash if the employee doesn’t also see their achievement as noteworthy. That doesn’t improve when other staff see the reward and think the same thing.
Rewarding for behaviour that employees don’t see as notable is jarring. It implies disconnection between you and your staff. Or at least a difference in what your team values and what managers think is important.
3. Is it timely?
To make the most of the combination of rewards and achievement, time is important. It’s vital to issue rewards as close to someone’s achievements as possible.
If you’ve left it too long, it can feel a bit like you’re not paying attention. Or that you’re playing catch-up with your staff’s achievements. And by that time, the emotional impact of your reward will be long gone.
4. Is it positive?
Rewarding employees should be associated with positive behaviour. Like we said, you’re training your staff on how to behave when you reward them. It’s an endorsement of what they did and how they achieved it. What you reward should always be something you’d be proud to talk about in public.
5. Is it repeatable?
Could another employee aspire to make this achievement for themselves?
When you reward employees you show everyone what the organisation thinks is important. Sometimes it’s appropriate to reward a one-off achievement, but tread carefully.
If employees can repeat behaviour that gets rewarded, they’re more likely to try and earn that reward again. If your plan is to build better behaviour with positive feedback, it needs to be something other employees can do.
The first four questions are the real quiz. If you can say “yes” with a straight face, it’s high time to break out the rewards. The fifth one you’ll have to play by ear and use your judgement, depending on your specific business.
But make sure you give your rewards a bit of thought before dishing them out. It’s worth it.
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Reloadable plastic gift cards offer you more than a one-time reward. They give you the chance to think long-term about staff rewards and customer loyalty.
Topping up Everyday Benefits cards makes rewarding employees easy. You don’t need to order new rewards every time you thank staff for their achievements.
Top up their reloadable gift cards. Then thank them face-to-face, or through your company’s recognition systems, like you would anyway.
This makes it very simple for situations like:
Large-scale team achievements
Issuing different values of reward across a whole organisation
Rewarding staff across multiple sites
Needing to reward mobile or remote staff
It also works for rewarding a single employee, too. It doesn’t matter if you’re rewarding long service, reaching milestones, or anything else.
It’s simple and effective when you use a reloadable plastic gift card.
Our Member Benefits card is the customer-facing version of the Everyday Benefits card. Rewarding your customers for their positive behaviour has two benefits:
Boosting loyalty through rewards
Building more positive behaviour in the future
Reward for pure longevity, buying promoted products, referrals, and more. Anything that makes sense for your business and your customers.
The customer doesn’t even need their card on them – you only need to keep their card number in your database to top it up.
You can then email or call them to say thank you after the top-up. Or say it face-to-face when they’re on the premises.
Talk to us
By the way, if any of this sounds like a good idea for your business, get in touch. We’re experts on this, and we always want to talk about it.
We’d love to guide you through setting up a customer or staff reward scheme.
Use the form at the bottom of this page, or get in touch on our contact page.
Drop the idea that a plastic gift card is a one-dimensional product
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What makes reloadable Love2shop Gift Cards so special
Love2shop Gift Cards are among the most exciting reward products in the UK. Spend them in-store at more than 95 popular stores, or exchange card balance online for our e-gift cards.
The e-gift card exchange on Love2shop.co.uk lets cardholders swap the funds on their gift card for an extra set of brands.
Combined, reloadable Love2shop Gift Cards offer a huge choice of high street retailers, online shopping, holidays, exclusive experiences and more.
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You could easily conflate rewards and incentives. And, honestly, we’d forgive you for that. Their specific roles, and how they interact, often causes a bit of confusion.
To quickly illustrate the difference, a handy recall trick is that incentives say “do well” and rewards say “well done.” Incentives tempt employees to go the extra mile and push for crucial results. The rewards are what thanks employees for hard work, whether they’re linked to an incentive or not. They’re not mutually dependent even though they’re often used in tandem.
This blog goes into more detail about the difference between the two, when you’d use them, and how employee recognition fits into the mix.
Rewards are the actual item that gets dished out to congratulate staff for exceptional success.
They’re there to validate and celebrate performance. Rewards are most often dispensed for achievement, like taking valuable projects live or crossing a sales threshold.
Rewards are personal trophies when they’re dispensed for achievement. Mementos of an employee’s own excellence. Reminders of the exceptional things your staff are capable of.
Trophy value has two major effects. Vitally, staff who get these rewards are more likely to put the effort in to achieve again the future. Equally, all staff are shown that outstanding effort is appreciated and validated by managers.
It has a bad habit of blending into the background noise of life. It’s not so easy to separate the part of your monthly pay that was a reward and which part was your gas bill. Especially when they’re both paid into the same current account.
Making trophies means putting cash aside as a reward.
Incentives summed up
An incentive is, essentially, something that’s designed to extract a desired behaviour by offering a reward ahead of time. For employees, that’s almost always some kind of professional performance. Rewards are promised in exchange for the exceptional performance once an objective is met.
They’re most common in sales teams, but any teams with measurable performance could employ an incentive scheme. You might try to decrease customer complaints, improve efficiency on a factory floor, get your fleet driving more safely, or even increasing personal training course completion.
The rewards are what spices up the targets to give your employees a bit of added impetus to reach their goals.
Where recognition fits in
Recognition doesn’t require you to use a reward. Although, it can include issuing a reward alongside recognition. The reward is a little amplifier to the recognition. A tangible reminder of what’s valued in your company.
Employees should be recognised for going above and beyond to exemplify your company’s values and improve your company culture. Regardless of whether that’s tied to a KPI. That’s how you build a stronger company culture for the future.
Recognition doesn’t need a reward
Because recognition is values driven, it doesn’t need to be associated directly with an award. Peer-to-peer recognition, especially, doesn’t have to accompanied by a reward.
The purpose is to create camaraderie between staff under the umbrella of your company’s values. To create a workplace where ethical, virtuous behaviour is encouraged and is seen by staff to be valued.
When filtered through values, recognition has value to your business that doesn’t need to be associated with rewards.
In summary. rewards are the actual products you use to highlight performance. An incentive is promising that reward ahead of time in exchange for achievement. Recognition is the acknowledgement of effort or performance, and can include a reward if you choose.
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Cash is a garbage employee reward. It’s been said, it can’t be unsaid. I can, however, explain why we say that.
Cash is sort of like coal
Cash isn’t scarce, so it isn’t special. I’ll use an example to illustrate. Cast your mind back to the days when coal used to get delivered on a lorry. The coal man comes, and because Mrs Smith found Derek the coal man’s lost dog last week, he gives Mrs Smith some extra lumps of coal for the month.
Do you think Mrs Smith is going to treasure those extra bits of coal? Will she put them up on the mantelpiece, fondly remembering that time Derek Mortimer gave her some extra coal? Or, will she say, “thank you, Derek, that’s very kind” and throw them into the pile with all the other lumps?
We both know it’s the latter, and that’s why cash doesn’t work as a reward. Cash for labour is a pre-existing transaction between you and your staff, and handing out extra cash only dilutes that transaction.
Cash is stressful
One of the single greatest sources of stress for everyone is money. This isn’t limited to low-earning employees either; a healthy glut of people earning above £50k a year find themselves in some financial agony every month.
When you reward exclusively with cash, you’re trying to employ one of the greatest sources of stress in modern life as a reward. And, as we pointed out earlier, we’re terrible at dissociating transaction cash from reward cash.
Non-cash employee rewards become trophies
Not every trophy is actually a trophy. Some trophies are memories of a nice meal, some novelty tea towels, new walking boots, a television or a certificate. Non-cash rewards feel “earned,” and become trophies of achievement.
For example, imagine you use a gift card as an employee reward for making a particularly effective promotional deck that wins new business. They use the card to buy themselves a Bluetooth speaker for their kitchen. A friend is over for dinner and says to your employee, “I like that speaker.”
The difference between a trophy and a cash purchase is how your employee responds to that compliment.
If it’s a trophy, “Thanks, I got it through work for winning us new clients.”
But, if it’s a purchase, “Thanks, got it off Amazon.”
If you want your rewards to be impactful, you want your staff to see their rewards as trophies. Trophies can be traced back to individual achievements, driving home the positive emotions and associating work victories with personal joys.
What actually works for employee rewards
Give your employees choice. Let them pick a reward at a corresponding value to their effort. Maintaining a catalogue of rewards in-house is an absurdly complicated task, so it’s best to outsource the effort.
Gift cards, vouchers or online codes are the easiest way to do that. You can easily reward at a cash-value without having to actually use cash, and employees can choose something that makes them happy.
Their items, or experiences, will be easily compartmentalised into trophies because they were earned through work but not purchased through cash.
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It’s time to think about Christmas gifts for employees, because Christmas will be here before you know it. Whether you’re counting sleeps until the 25th, or trying to figure out what to do, it’s coming all the same. And with Christmas comes the expectation you’ll organise some Christmas gifts for employees.
So, just for you, we’ve got 25 great staff Christmas gift ideas that won’t find their way to the bin or end up re-gifted to someone’s least favourite cousin. And, for a special treat, five really bad ideas you need to avoid at all costs.
Gift cards function almost exactly like a voucher, but with some key advantages.
You can get them branded to your company’s look so they’ll be more effective at generating gratitude. They also often come with an online option. That could be direct online spending, or an online exchange to trade the funds for another selection of gifts.
3. Wine tasting at home
For plenty of our staff, a bottle of wine over Zoom with friends and family has become a weekly staple. One way to keep it fresh is to try some new wines (or beers!) together. Companies like Laithwaites and Virgin Wines offer at-home delivery services that make it possible to sort out some casual wine-tasting at home.
4. A big night in
With so many of us making the most of the great indoors since lockdown, we’re noticing a few more charges from Just Eat and Uber Eats on the monthly bank statement. A family-sized voucher or gift card for a home delivery service gives your staff one big guilt-free night in.
5. Friday night bingo, or a quiz
Normally you’d have a big Christmas party at the end of the year, but as we know now, that’s off the table. Most of the clients we’re talking to are cancelling their Christmas do, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have a little event. It won’t be the same as a big do, but a big end-of-year company quiz with some big prizes would be just the thing. Get everyone together, have some fun, and take the chance to thank everyone for their work through the year.
6. Active gifts
Something for the lockdown fitness promise that became a New Year’s Resolution. Whether it’s a new bike, running gear, or yoga equipment, there’s plenty out there for the people trying to make a change in 2021. There’s no better way to give them a head start on their goals than gifting them a leg-up with the right gear. Halfords and Sports Direct make it easy for someone pick up gear for cycling, running, football and more at reasonable prices.
7. Wholesaler memberships
A membership to a wholesaler like Costco could save staff an enormous amount of money on bulk household items. Litres of toothpaste isn’t exactly a ‘Christmas-y’ thought, but your employees with families will be grateful. Especially during the winter seasons when they’re entertaining a houseful of guests. They make helpful and well received christmas gifts for employees.
8. Special coffee or tea mugs
The UK drinks more than 60 billion cups of tea every year. That’s more than enough cause to know special mugs make a great gift.
Reward codes are sent over sms or email, then redeemed online. They make more sense than gift cards or vouchers for more “online” staff.
To give them a more personal touch, spruce the delivery up with personal messages of appreciation.
The Christmas period is hectic, and with so much uncertainty this year that’s not going to change. The cash might not be there to fork out for a load of gifts for staff, but just being flexible with hours during the festive period could be as welcome as a fancy bottle of wine.
11. Tote bags
We all want to make less waste, but that means lugging more containers about with us.
Rucksacks aren’t always a chic choice, but totes are. A quality sustainable fibre tote is a great gift for someone sick of dragging a tatty Bag for Life around.
12. Great books
Books are often a byword for boring gifts. But that’s because they’re often just the latest vapid celebrity biography, or a tenuous link to a hobby.
Put some time and thought into a good book and it will be a fantastic gift. it shows not just that you’ve thought about someone, but that you actually know them well enough to pick them out a great book.
13. Luxury gift cards
We have already mentioned gift cards. But special gift cards for high-end shops like M&S or John Lewis are different.
Even the most dour employee can find something delightful with a luxury gift card. Only being able to get something luxurious makes them great Christmas gifts for employees.
For some employees, offering your heartfelt thanks would go much further than any cash-value item. Knowing their efforts are valued and noticed as they head into a Christmas break does as much for morale as rewards might.
15. DIY vouchers
Spending more time at home means spending more time with those little jobs we never quite get around to doing. Things that you used to be able to ignore, but now you’re looking at them all day you can’t get them out of your head.
That door that doesn’t close quite right, that broken fence panel, or that patch of unpainted plaster slowly driving you crazy. Gifting vouchers or gift cards to places like B&Q, Homesense, Wickes is just the thing to help them get those little jobs sorted out over their Christmas break.
16. Donation to a charity
You really need to know the room before making a call like this. People might feel let down, or maybe even a bit patronised.
But if you look at the office and can’t imagine what to get for your socially-conscious millennials, a donation works. As long as it speaks to a cause they’re invested in – which means knowing them well enough to make the call.
17. Custom print cushions, pillows or luggage
Submit someone’s picture, or maybe a picture of their pet, and it becomes a print of the item. That could be pillows or cushions.
But the best is luggage – there’s no debating who a suitcase belongs to when your face is all over it.
18. Wireless shower speakers
Ideal for anyone that really can’t go a minute without a bit of stimulation. Not even for the duration of a shower. Also ideal for an employee that likes a long soak in the bath with a good podcast.
19. Pocket-friendly powerbanks
Always running out of charge is annoying, but so is carrying around a giant power bar all day.
A pocket-friendly power pack helps your electrically-challenged employees stay online. Without taking an unwieldly battery everywhere.
20. Multi-tools for outdoorsy types
Our outdoors types love a multi-tool. Especially the specialised ones for cyclists, climbers, woodsmen and more.
Depending on what your staff get up to in the outdoors, there’s a quality multi-tool out there.
21. Slippers for indoorsy types
Our indoors types, by contrast, love a good pair of comfortable slippers. Everyone loves a really comfortable pair of slippers for those cold nights in.
22. Infusion water bottles
Supplying staff with their own refillable, non-toxic bottles benefits you and your staff. They cut down on waste, saving money on disposable cups, and they help staff stay hydrated during the work day. Infusion bottles also let staff stick a bit of citrus fruit of a tea bag in for a healthy flavoured drink.
23. Speciality coffees
Caffeine is an essential office supply. A specialty coffee selection is a great gift for anyone that always says “yes” when the barista offers them the special blend.
24. Streaming services
Not unlike the Just Eat and Deliveroo charges piling up, the standing orders for streaming services are adding up as well. It would be a nice gesture to help keep your staff entertained while they’re at home.
25. Adult learning classes
For someone that’s always wanted to speak Spanish. Or wishes they knew how to paint with oils or create pottery.
They’re fun and personal. And they let your staff do something personally fulfilling and enriching outside their work.
[Edit this to include that there’s loads of time at home now]
Five Christmas gifts for employees to avoid at all costs
It’s the thought that counts, unless you’re thinking about really bad gift ideas. Or even worse, if you don’t think about someone at all. Steer clear of this stuff if you want good Christmas gifts.
1. Being forgotten
Forgetting to buy some employees gifts is a miniature morale crisis. That goes double if they’re remote or mobile. They’ll already have their guard up about not being in the office, and being forgotten amplifies that feeling.
Old reliable, and reliably boring. No one hates having more money, but cash doesn’t make a great Christmas gift for employees. Especially in companies where year-end bonuses are the norm for performance targets among sales teams.
3. Cheap and boring food and drink
Anyone can walk into a supermarket and buy themselves a bar of Dairy Milk. It’s not interesting, thoughtful or special. If you’re so out of ideas you’re thinking about buying someone a Toblerone, just get them a decent gift card.
4. Gag gifts
Sometimes they work, but it’s best avoided unless you really know them. That goes double if you’re the boss. Remember that as an employer that you’re “punching down.” You’re in a position of authority or power over your staff, and what seems harmless to you can come off as a dig on someone’s work, or their position in the company.
5. Self-help books
The Secret and Rich Dad, Poor Dad might have completely turned your life around. but don’t try to pressure other people into “improving” themselves. It’s incredibly patronising and not exactly exciting at Christmas.
Four simple guidelines on Christmas gifts for employees
Keep a few ideas in mind when you’re looking to gift to stay on the safe side.
1. Be fair
It’s a gift, not a bonus. No one should feel hard done by when you save the lion’s share of your gift budget for the best performers.
2. Be consistent
Pick a price range you’re confident you can stick to next year too. A big blowout one year and little the next isn’t great for internal credibility, and it gives off uncomfortable boom/bust vibes.
3. No company logos
We love employee engagement but we don’t want to see staff turned into walking billboards for their company. Let your employees enjoy their gift without having to sport the corporate logo everywhere they go.
4. Keep HMRC happy
Keep in mind the value of what you gift is subject to tax regulations. Especially if the cash-value of your gifts adds up to more than £50 per employee over the year.
Talk to your finance people and make sure you keep everything square with the tax man when gifting.
Remember: There’s no need to stress about it
If you’re stressing about it, let me stop you right there. Just get the basics right. Put the effort in, try your best to anticipate the tastes of your employees, and act in earnest gratitude. Hit those notes and you’ll be just fine.
And if you’re still not sure, get in touch with us. We’d be happy to talk you through a few options.
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